Für mich ist ein Collins mit Gin, oder auch Old Tom Gin, ein Tom Collins
Unter dem Namen John Collins kenne ich die Whiskyvariante, die Genevervariante und die Rumvariante. Unter dem Namen wird so einiges geführt. Eigenartig.
The Tom Collins and the John Collins: A Discussion
Excerpted from the Bartender’s GIN compendium by gaz regan.
Much has been written about the origins of the Tom Collins, and it was George Sinclair, bartender, drink historian, blogger, and all-around mischief-maker, who uncovered some previously unknown the facts about it in a 2006 article that he penned for Class magazine in the U.K… The drink, according to George, was seemingly named after a practical joke, and the joke, which was the talk of the town in New York and other cities in 1874, had grown men roaming the streets looking for Tom Collins, a fictitious character who, they were told by pranksters of the nineteenth century, had been saying nasty things about them. Strange how things such as a sense of humor, things that we think of as being basic and ingrained, change over the years, right? This, though, was the great Tom Collins Hoax of 1874, and the drink known as the Tom Collins began to appear in cocktail books shortly after this.
Prior to the Sinclair article everyone thought that the Tom Collins was a drink that was born of John Collins, a drink seemingly named for the head waiter at Limmer’s, a joint in London. John Collins was, in fact, the narrator of the following verse from a poem by Frank and Charles Sheridan:
“My name is John Collins, head waiter at Limmer’s,
Corner of Conduit Street, Hanover Square,
My chief occupation is filling brimmers
For all the young gentlemen frequenters there.”
Later in the poem gin punch is mentioned: “Mr. Frank always drinks my gin punch when he smokes.” So it’s long been presumed that the John Collins gin punch originated at Limmer’s in London, but Sinclair’s findings seemed to put paid to this theory. Indeed, Sinclair as much as dismissed the theory, and more than a few people were inclined to agree with him at the time. But it seems that he was wrong, after all. When Imbibe, Dave Wondrich’s book, was released in 2007, things got a little more clear.
While the Tom Collins Hoax of 1874 seemed feasible to some folk as being responsible for the name change, it just ain’t so. The Tom Collins seems most definitely to have gotten its name when Old Tom gin replaced the genever gin in the John Collins. Wondrich cites a gin punch known as a John Collins as being introduced to bartenders in New York in the 1850s, and although the recipe is lost to history, if it was anything like the gin punches being served at other London clubs—specifically The Garrick Club—during the first half of the nineteenth century, Wondrich says that it would have called for gin, lemon juice, chilled soda water, and maraschino liqueur.
Wondrich is a little evasive in his book, but when asked flat out, “Do you know for sure that a gin punch known as John Collins was around prior to the 1870s?,” his reply was, “Yeah, it’s in the 1869 Steward & Barkeeper’s Manual, and George Augustus Sala [a well respected British writer/reporter/editor] found people drinking it here during the Civil War.” he told us. A few weeks later dear David came up with a quote from a Canadian publication, dated 1865, that goes like this: “The last time I saw [John Wilkes Booth] was at Montreal, in October, 1864, at a place called ‘Dolly’s,’ next door to the St. Lawrence Hall, and much frequented by the amateurs of ‘Mint Juleps’ and ‘John Collinses.’”
In 1904 an article entitled The Last of Limmer’s, written by John Morley, a British journalist and politician, appeared in Macmillan’s Magazine, and here we find a little more information about the drink: “Through the bustle and confusion of Limmer’s John Collins trotted serenely in his noiseless pumps . . . mixing pick-me-ups of the kind named after him for the dejected revelers . . . This world-renowned beverage, still popular in America, and not forgotten on this side of the Atlantic, was compounded of gin, soda-water, ice, lemon and sugar,” he wrote. Later in this piece Morley mentions that after Collins retired from Limmers, Dickens visited him In Hempstead. Collins was quite an important man, it seems.
So where does all that leave us? Well, since the first recipe for the Tom Collins turned up in Jerry Thomas’ 1876 book, The Bar-Tender’s Guide or How to Mix all Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks, and Thomas called specifically for Old Tom gin to be used, the name change—from John to Tom—seems appropriate. This theory also makes sense when you see that Louis Muckensturm detailed both drinks, calling for Hollands—genever—in the John Collins, and Old Tom in the Tom Collins. This can be found in his 1906 book, Louis’ Mixed Drinks.
In conclusion, then, it seems incontrovertible that the John Collins was named for the head waiter at Limmer’s in London, and that the Tom Collins is the same drink but made with Old Tom gin rather than Genever. Q.E.D. Now let the matter rest, please.